There's something odd about Anneke van Giersbergen. I keep hearing her name tossed around next to acts like Napalm Death, Moonspell and Within Temptaion, and I've heard her collaborations with other artists scores of times. And yet I've never heard what her solo music sounds like. Let me tell you, I wasn't expecting an alternarock album when I first played Everything is Changing, but after hearing Giersbergen strip away her usual aggressive metal backing, I can definitely say the results are far from disappointing.
Being a very straightforward album, the melodies are overwhelmingly fun and heavily pop-influenced, yet her music is still peppered with fun guitar flairs and interesting riffs. You can definitely hear a lot of references to the progressive/alternarock sound that defined her work with The Gathering. Of course, you can also hear the influences on her music from the metal artists she's worked with too, especially The Devin Townsend Project. The parallels between this music and her work with him on Addicted are immense--tracks like "Bend It Like Bender!" and "Hyperdrive!" would feel right at home amongst songs like the great rocker "Stay" and the ballad "1000 Miles Away From Home" that flirt with lighter metal melodies.
Of course, being primarily a vocalist, the music is heavily focused on her vocal lines. This may sound odd, but it's hard not to notice how nice van Giersbergen's voice is. Okay, maybe I'm a bit biased--when I listen to her on this album, I am remembering the voice that performed alongside Fish, Robert Westerholt and Arjen Anthony Lucassen on Into the Electric Castle. But her vocal performance is incredibly genuine--there's no façade, no show of lies, and no dishonest presentation. It's just honest-to-god passionate singing, and the difference is notable and welcome.
I will say I was expecting a little bit more musically from the album, given the calibre of the metal and progressive artists she's collaborated with in the past. But you know what? I'd be lying if I said this album wasn't still enjoyable. The only real place it could use some work is with the lyrics, but given that van Giersbergen is going for a straight pop rock sound, most of that is forgivable--the four-minute alt-rock song isn't the best format for lyrical ramblings with incredible depth.
Okay, fine, it's guilty pleasure music. I fully admit. But Everything is Changing still strikes me as many cuts above your standard pop/alt fare. Go ahead and give it a listen.
7.5 / 10
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